The Interrelatedness of System Components


Katherine Curry

When considering a school through a systems perspective, it is important to have an understanding of each of the components in a system. These components work together to create value to the client/customer. The list below offers some insight into resources, activities, and outputs/outcomes in a school system:


  • Research indicates that a teacher is the single most important influence (resource) on a child’s learning in a school, and principal leadership is second (Fullan, 2014). Personnel expenses, such as teacher and administrator salaries, are the largest single cost expenditure in education (OECD, 2013).
  • Facilities also represent a primary budget item across schools. Facilities help to promote a culture/climate that can promote student learning. Therefore, careful attention to resources is an essential step for school effectiveness.


  • Technology offers important considerations for educational leaders. For example, the traditional format of delivery involves students meeting on campus five days each week for approximately eight hours each day. However, technology allows schools to operate using a hybrid format where students come to campus part of the time and complete work online for the remaining days. Additionally, a “flipped classroom” approach allows students to gain knowledge away from the classroom and apply that knowledge under the supervision of the teacher. Many delivery formats are available to school leaders, and edupreneurs must consider which delivery method best meets the needs of their students.
  • Effective edupreneurs understand that activity considerations greatly influence resources that are needed to meet student needs. Also, understanding the “target market” of your school will help you to define which types of activities/services are needed.
  • Activities may also include services for special needs students or extracurricular activities offered to students. Understanding the goals of the organization can help to determine the types of activities that are needed.

Outputs and Outcomes

  • It is important to differentiate between these two terms.  Outputs are short-term results such as grades or number of students in the school. Outcomes are medium to long-term results that reflect a benefit gained from services (activities). An example of an outcome could be scholarships awarded, recognitions for outstanding performance, or college preparedness. When used in decision making, understanding the difference in these two terms can mean the difference between mediocre and exceptional organizational effectiveness.
  • A recent publication in NonProfit Times (2015) suggests that mediocre organizations make decisions based on outputs while exceptional organizations make decisions based on outcomes (NonProfit Times, 2015).
  • An effective edupreneur knows to consider both outputs and outcomes, and he/she understands that they have very different emphases in decision making processes.

Applying what you know about the difference between outputs and outcomes, please answer the following questions:


  1. What types of decisions are based on outputs in your school?
  2. What types of decisions are based on outcomes in your school?
  3. What would be the likely result if you solely considered outcomes in leadership decisions?


  • Fullan, M. (2014). The principal: Three keys to maximizing impact. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.
  • Nonprofit Times (2014). Grants: Outputs versus outcomes. Retrieved August 4, 2017.
  • Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OCED), (2013). Resources invested in education. In What makes schools successful? Resources, Policies and Practices (Vol IV). Retrieved August 14, 2017.
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  1. Caitriona Harris

    The coordination of the outputs create the outcome.

    • Caitriona Harris

      If outcome is the focus of leadership, those who we lead may become frustrated without support in designing the outputs that influence desired outcomes. Outcomes rarely “just happen.” Intentional planning is necessary.

  2. clsnyder-renfro

    1.What types of decisions are based on outputs in your school?
    Subject matter, literacy (math, science, reading), competencies (learning to learn and behave)
    2.What types of decisions are based on outcomes in your school?
    Handling behavior, extracurricular activities, ICAP, internships, scholarships, graduation rates (on time, drop outs), college remediation
    3.What would be the likely result if you solely considered outcomes in leadership decisions?
    When you are making a salad it’s nice to have a blend of greens instead of only bitter ones even though they are really good for you. You need a little color, something crunchy and a variety of textures. I am thinking that outputs are a little like a formative assessment and outcomes like summative. You kind of need to check along the way but keep the end product/outcome in mind. As I understand the material in the course thus far we want to be exceptional and do focus a lot on outcome but use outputs to get there.

  3. melissayarbrough

    I’m thinking about how determining outcomes requires some length of time. In the meantime, outputs could be looked at to make adjustments to activities. I am skeptical of the use of grades to determine output. Grades are an antiquated concept that needs to be abandoned along with factory model schools. I would like to find a better way to measure a student’s learning gains and/or mastery of a concept or discipline.


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